“The number doesn’t define you.” I have heard this statement from multiple people and it is difficult to believe. For over two decades, I have focused on defining myself by the size of my clothes, the number on the scale, the measurements of my body… The list goes on as to how numbers help me define my worth.
Today, as I was journaling, I decided to try to understand my worth outside of numeric measurements. I am failing. When I make goals, I try to form measurable goals. This goes back to numbers. How do I measure my value without numbers?
I am not a number. I am a person who has value beyond measure. I am creative and witty (if I could find a sense of humor that wasn’t debasing to myself). I also have an interest in making a difference, even if just for one person.
I remember being in college and wanting to take on the world. I remember being 11 and wanting to be a missionary and to help others. I remember feeling like I had value.
When depression first struck, I was about 12. It was then that my sense of self-worth began to plummet. Then, life happened and it plummeted even further. I remember weighing myself for the first time when I was 13. I remember being surprised by the number and afraid, but it did not affect me until years later, years after my eating disorder took hold and life became about how much exercise I could do and what size I wore. The need for the number to be smaller came after the eating disorder wrecked me. I admitted to doctors that I thought I had a problem and they said I weighed too much to have an eating disorder. So, I wasn’t sick (in my mind) and my behaviors were totally normal.
Now, at a heavier weight than I was in college, I struggle with being in treatment for anorexia and I have to remind myself that weight is only one criteria. My obsession with food and weight and body image and everything else are a part of anorexia. How do I get beyond this idea that I am too fat?
I start to look for value outside the number. I have to remember there is more than numbers. I have to understand more than numbers. Just like diagnoses have multiple facets, I have more facets than just my weight.
God loves every single inch of me. My family loves all of me. My friends love all of me. They all see me as more than a number. Most of them don’t even know my numbers. As I write this, I can understand why my treatment team doesn’t want me to know my numbers. There is more to me than a number on the scale.
So, how do I access this idea every day? How do I express a sense of appreciation for myself?
Already, I have started practicing gratitude. Already, I have tried to come up with ways of looking at myself that are not relative to appearance. This is really difficult. I have spent most of my life focused on appearance and now–now, I am focusing on other attributes.
I encourage you to seek out ways to look at yourself that are not defined by numbers or diagnoses. I am more and so are you.